Wednesday, May 07, 2008

I can't play the flute

22-24 hours of moving out of 28, wasted tired.

Simple plan - solo time in the mountains, Try to climb Flute Peak.
Going into the South Fork Valley is a bit like going home, so many great days have been had back there, close to town, big mountains, long approaches.
Flute was the goal, but there are pleanty of other options if I didnt feel up to it.
rope, rap gear, bivy gear, stove, ice axes, megamid & not enough food all packed hit the Harp Trail at around 6pm monday night.

Trail conditions were horrendous, worst snow imaginable... heavy rotten wallowing for hours:

Spring tundra skiing at its finest, took the boards off about 20 times:

Took 3 hours just to get to Eagle lake, I was demoralized and tired.. but the lake looked good so I kept going in the cool wind and fading light, nice and fast across the lake, then more rotten slogging up the valley finally broke a skin track up ave debris to finally get to the first step at midnight. Stumled around tired in the dark, heavy pack took it out of me. then I lost my spoon in the snow and had to use a piton:

up at 5, nice and cold out, good crust. out of the mid before 6.. snap, WTF? I look down and my ski pole broke in half. Black Diamond crap, I sware their stuff is getting cheaper and cheaper, not too peppy. sluggish. skin skin, up up, Finally on the Flute glacier, up the right side, slow, steady. snow is good, pack heavy, damn rope... but no reason to turn around yet. to the base of the Couloir, the bergschrund is nicely filled in with ave debris. Out comes the probe.. one pole skinning.. probing to find the cravasse... no sign of it, must have already passed it... too steep to skin, time to boot. A bit soft, maybe its just on the bottom fan, up and up, humm ok, a little better, crampons on, up and up 45 degrees, not so bad, but a bit punchy, 50ish degrees. Is it going to slide and take me out? no its fine, no slab, the lower layer is re-frozen crust, its cold and 8am, stop worrying. higher, wow, this is going to go... topout - windslab? cornice? its cool, just steep, suck it up and finsih it.. top.

where too now, crampons staying on, some rock scrambling, "this isnt soo bad..." then finally the view I've seen photos of:

It dosent look too bad, but what is not visable is the 100+' death fall down to the right. Took a long brake here and gave it some serious thought...

after 2 "looks" I grabbed my pack and made it across the exposed traverse to the top of the small ice patch in the middle, from there the route cuts left and after another long time thinking, no Thanks, too exposed. I don't feel like vomiting or dying today. I will come back with a friend. oh well, 50' from the top is pretty damn good, and I gave my rope a nice long walk...

Down down down..
at the bottom of the couloir with some morning light:

The couloir cuts up the right side of the peak:

humm, its still before noon, must keep moving. Calliope. it has turned me back twice, there is no reason not to go for it, you're here scoped a route up the back side, the normal routes are on other faces, but this looked like it would work.

deep snow, kick kick, hot sun, kick kick, long way up... nice neve on the upper half, on to the ridge... sweet.. Cool summit, required a bit of poking around to find. The hours of kicking steps starting to catch up to me:

sick views of the high chugach - Polar Beak, Organ Peak, and Flute:

Down down, crampons, then booting, then snowboard turns...Back to the bivy and fired up the stove for re-hydration, I was going to spend another night but I ate all my cheezwiz and ho-ho's and my bivy was in the shade, so out it was, beginning the long march back to civilization:

looking back at Eagle Peak:

Eagle lake, good traveling:

South fork valley, not good traveling

back to the truck at 10pm brain damaged with one Gu left.
Its good to be back in the groove.


Chris said...

Wow beautiful pictures. Is flute 5th class at the top there?

Kellie said...

F-ing champion solo day . . . I guess "back at it" is an understatement. Killing it would be a much better characterization!!!! Start thinking Spurr for a few days in late May/early June . . .

Eric said...

chris - yeah its easy 5th, with rime ice and exposure ;)